I read an article yesterday about social media and self-esteem.
And it highlighted some pretty good points. One of these being that social media designed to be inspirational can be fairly destructive. I wholeheartedly agree with this. Even as someone who blogs, I am sill aware of the blogging hierarchy. There are bloggers and IG-ers I compare myself to. Thankfully I didn’t have IG or a blog until my late teens. If I’d have had IG as a 14 year old, or gotten into YouTube in such a massive way then, then I can see that my self-esteem might have taken an even bigger dint than spots, puberty, and puppy fat had already given me. So, reading this article I began to question what it must be like for teens now to scroll down through their social media feeds, and compare themselves to what pops up.
On social media, and I’m guilty of this too, we all put our best side forward. I’m not even as bad as some of my friends (they know who they are) who don’t run large accounts, but rearrange the food when it arrives in a restaurant. That always makes me chuckle to be honest, and yes their photos are stunning- but I saw and laughed at what went into it. I am the flatmate roped into taking pre-night out photos, which do always look lovely. But no one on the other side of the camera saw me, dragged away from what I was doing, stood in my dressing gown taking 10 unsatisfactory photos. They just see someone caught in a spontaneous moment of laughter, looking – you guessed it- perfect.
I do like to make sure my posts have great pictures. My flatmates and family watch me run around in a bemused way, trying to find the best light when a picture is for a specific blog post. I take pride in what I do. And my efforts have helped me to begin making a career out of this work. BUT. You may have read that, and see where this is going: social media needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. To anyone on the other side of the camera it looks perfectly spontaneous, and yet in those two words you have a huge juxtaposition.
And so today we’re about to dig a little deeper. For all of those people who scroll through IG and watch perfect YT videos, I want to give you a taste of how bloggers and IG-ers and YouTubers aren’t actually super-human, and yes social media affects us too.
Looking into a few more articles on this topic was comforting to me, because I learnt that a) others on my side of the camera feel this way, and b) I am not the worst one out there. But I also realised that, personally, it can be really difficult seeing it from both sides as a blogger.
I am by no means a massive blogging personality, yet I do feel like I have a responsibility to act as a role model, and cheer you guys up- not drag you down. This sometimes clashes with what I try to do here, which is to be completely honest with you. Most of the time I lean towards the honesty, and today we’re getting pretty honest…
Below I have listed some of the social media realities I personally find to be applicable to myself and some others. Let’s lift the lid on social media from my side of the screen a little bit more.
Let’s start simple: food IG-ers arrange their food, and wipe the plates. It doesn’t just land there like that.
I used to spend an inordinate amount of time arranging food, and now it’s simply second nature and I present food well at a very fast pace. My food is never cold when I sit down now, but for a good year when I started out, it sometimes was. I could probably work in a fancy restaurant the speed I plate up now. But it does make it harder when my family want to help me, and their presentation skills are more slapdash. It’s also incredibly frustrating to have well-mannered friends, who won’t eat until you’ve finished taking a picture, or nag them into just eating their damn food because you won’t be long but you feel under pressure with them waiting.
I want to interact more with you guys, but sometimes don’t know how to do it, and there’s pressure to come across “in the right way”
Believe it or not, I spend very little time socialising on social media. I prefer to do things face to face. I run my IG and blog almost like a mash up of hobby/business. And so, much as I want to engage with you all more, this is something I find difficult- would people be interested in seeing my every day life? Would it bore them? how do I balance being “real” and being a “role model”? Again, it comes down to comparison with the lives of bigger social media personalities.
As an IG-er and blogger, I can be insecure as well- and I can compare myself unfavourably too
I have had to stop myself scrolling for too long, and unfollow certain accounts because they basically make me feel shit about myself. Being in the health/food/lifestyle category, it’s usually a matter of body confidence here. Or, if a blog younger than mine has more followers/ is being promoted more, though I am incredibly happy for blogs and IG accounts I do follow, it can be a bit disheartening. My best advice? Just keep going and doing you.
I am still recovering from disordered eating
Some of you may have picked up on the fact that I sometimes have referred to this on IG, and on here before. I believe I may be classed as “eating disorder not otherwise specified”. In other words, a mix. I used to binge eat and then restrict, and I have pretty much successfully treated myself to get to where I am now- but my eating was never treated by a professional. I have issues with demanding a lot from myself when I’m determined to do something. Some days, I struggle with disordered thoughts, and I have to work through them. It’s taken me a full year to admit that there is still something slightly off with my attitude to eating at times, and that I need to address it so that I feel fully recovered. Some days are harder than others and it can be slow going, though not often seen. On your side of the camera you see healthy balanced meals. I ensure I eat a balanced diet despite these days of thoughts that are harder to deal with, pushing through any anxiety, because that’s how I make progress. Balance is what I aspire towards at all times, in all areas of my life. As I earlier said, I am conscious that some people will be looking to my account for inspiration, so this actually does help me work through these issues, look after myself, and make the progress I need to. However, sometimes social media can do the opposite, and I experience this just as much as you may…
Sometimes it’s frustrating to see IGers, YTers, and bloggers who eliminate food groups and over-exercise portray their lifestyle as normal, or even healthy.
These are some of the accounts I unfollowed, and keep an eye on not following. Accounts where though amazingly physically active, they eat little to no food, or scrimp on basic food groups – usually carbohydrates. This is something I avoid on my own account, and in real life, but does still sometimes make me question what I’m eating momentarily. Seeing this behaviour normalized is even harder when you are technically part of the online community, and also have an understanding of this behaviour.
So, I too regularly have to do a social media cull
I have to keep tabs on who I follow, and what videos pop up on YT. The “not interested” button is a great tool for this. You can use social media to your advantage (post right here), but you also have to be careful.
Sometimes the happy captions on pictures don’t reflect the bad day you’re having
My life isn’t perfect: sometimes I have one million things to do, I have had an argument with a loved one, I am simply feeling low or tired, or like I’m having a challenging day. Some days everything that could go wrong, does. I always try to be positive on social media, as that’s my usual way of dealing with things in real life as well. A negative mind will never give you a positive life. But sometimes I think, having written this, it may be beneficial to you lot to see when things go pear shaped, just to let you know that it’s perfectly normal.
I have to work around natural light this time of year for certain photos, which is a right ball-ache
This comes into the first point, but in winter it needs a special mention. I can take pictures between the hours of 8:30am, and around 3pm. Those are the best daylight hours during this time of year, and it means when I have an important blog post/recipe to make, then I have to plan around this.
“You must get tonnes of free stuff/ invites…”
People often assume that I get invited to events and receive tonnes of freebies. I do receive some free things, sometimes. But not masses, and only from brands I have previously reviewed off of my own bat as a thank you, or from the same company with something new they think may interest me. These relationships take time to build, and sometimes involve a lot of negotiation. When I was on work experience with a PR firm I saw the other side of this relationship: I was disappointed to learn some of my favourite YouTubers had turned down a deal to work with a brand I love, because they wouldn’t be paid enough. This did mean I managed to find two new IGers and YTers, who were happy to work with the brand, and I happen to love more than those I had originally liked.
We are entitled to change our minds as well, because we’re human
Once something is out on social media, that’s it. But this also means bloggers can come under fire for changing their minds. I value consistency, but different things work differently depending on where you are at that moment. For example : I wrote a post on how food diaries can be useful or obsessive, and how I had just stopped keeping one. Now, I sporadically do keep one. Maybe this will continue, maybe it won’t- but I am entitled to change my mind. Part of my starting a blog was to share my life and what I learn along the way with you, not to show you that I am never wrong.
There you go, a quick glimpse in to the world of social media, how it’s hard on bloggers too, and why you shouldn’t believe everything you see. If you’re also a blogger/IGer/YTer then I would love to hear your views below, as I would from anyone wanting to join in the conversation…